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your departure, to the coachman, to order the carriage for the use of the family, at ten. Good morning, Sir!'
Here comes my whiskered, moustach'd friend, flourishing his cane, and tripping along very gingerly. He is one of those characters left in possession of more money than brains, and who after idling a few years at college, took the tour of Europe, corresponding, at the same time, with some obscure journal in his native village. He has been fortunate in aping all the accomplishments of another nafion, turning them into the ridiculous more completely than the sublime was ever transformed. How little he knows in regard to himself ! While he imagines that he is an object of universal admiration, he is regarded with pity and contempt by all sensible beings. When death overtakes him at last, the vacuum which he leaves will never be observed.
But I must draw this number of my biography to an end. I trust it will not be altogether unprofitable to the reader, simple as it is. It will be perceived, that my whole history is rapidly drawing to a close that the volume of my existence is fast filling — soon to be clasped and silently put away for ever. But we will not mourn. The immortal Hogarth has sketched a broomstick as a figure representing the close of a busy life. Permit me, therefore, kind reader, to moralize.
Life, I repeat, then, is short. And how many trivial circumstances occur daily to remind us of this truth. The pilgrim who has wandered far from his native village, on returning to its little burial-place, finds many a stone, and many an inscription to chain him in wonder and silence. So short a period, and yet how many lights of friendship have gone out! He wanders among the shadows of the ancient elms which shade his home, but he is a stranger. That silver-headed old man, who was the uncle' of the village, has laid aside his staff, and has gone to sleep for ever. Every one knew him; and his lips were eloquent with many a tale. A play-mate that was, had married, and died one here, and another there. We trace them to the grave, and nought breaks the silence of that holy spot, save the tinkling of the brook, or the sighing of some passing zephyr. The grave ! That home of the great, and final couch for earth's kings! What a glorious company the living have in view, when they are called away from their idols above! The patriarchs of old, Jacob, and Joseph, and the Pharaohs of Egypt -- Solomon, whose golden temple mocked the glory of the morning sun
the Thebans Emperors of Rome and Greece — with thousands of the illustrious of more modern days. The grave is indeed rich with departed greatness. Where is Scott - the immortal Scott ? He sleeps with his brother in fame, Shakspeare! Where is our own Washington ? He sleeps with Cincinnatus and Alfred, three names as legible as the stars of heaven. The
grave has them all — and never will such dust dissolve again in its hallowed precincts. But I must pause; and if age spares me, I trust I shall be enabled to give another chapter, closing my diversified history. New-York, May, 1837.
H. H. R,
And ever and anon some goodly tree,
And now some root which rends before the shock,
In that swift brook I saw the flight of Time -
Time's stream flows into that eternity
A dying nation o'er its current heaves,
The monument or pyramid that seemed
It would be difficult, in the catalogue of human instincts, to put the finger upon one of stronger power or more universal prevalence, than the love of fiction ; or, more correctly expressed, perhaps, the love of narrative. Not an exotic, the seedling of a cultivated nursery, the product of a luxurious hot-bed, not the peculiar growth of this country, or of that zone, or of either hemisphere, can this hardy instinct be considered ; but a plant that springs ap alike beside the lichen of Lapland, or under the bread-fruit of Tonga, indigenous in every climate, a native of the world.
When was the age, what the nation, that might claim exemption from its power? How far back must we trace man's history, to find the time when national and domestic traditions ceased to exist, or failed to interest ? Whither must we travel in search of that nation, degraded even below curiosity, where the rude legend kindles not the eye, arrests not the breath, of the listener? We must forget the fables and tragedies of Greece, the parables of Judea, the romances of chivalry, the mysteries and pageants of the dark ages, no less than the fashionable tales and modern novels of our own time, if we deny, that it always has been, as still it is, natural for mankind to desire and delight in that which presents to their senses successive images of events, be they true or false, faithfully related, or fancifully imagined
And Fancy wins the day against Truth. While ber severer sister is besieging, by gradual approaches, the reason, Fancy has already enlisted the feelings, and subdued the soul. Give me but the writing of the national ballads’ — so exclaimed the shrewdest statesman England ever saw — give me but the writing of the national ballads, and I care not who has the framing of the laws.'
Let us allow something for the point of the apothegm, and in substance it is not without truth. His power who legislates for the fancy, is greater than his who enacts statutes for the conduct; as much greater as the warm impulses of the heart are stronger than the cold dictates of the understanding.
. These things ought not so to be,' will some one say. They are so. More — in our day and generation at the least, they will be so. No man, not even he who so long regulated the lever that now-adays decides the march of armies and the motions of the political world — not Rothschild himself exerted, during the last twenty years, as home-felt an influence over civilized Europe as did Walter Scott.
In the propensity, then, which lies at the root of the Great Novelist's sway, we recognise an instinct, powerful beyond law or statute, universal without limit of race or clime. It is injurious, illegitimate. Is it? The proof. It may be perverted. And what human instinct cannot? It has been notoriously perverted. True. A parent may as innocently permit his child to swallow an intoxicating draught of ardent spirits, as suffer its mind to be poisoned, and its nerves unstrung, by drinking in the panic terrors that breathe from Mrs. Radcliffe's foolishly-horrible pages.
But it is peculiarly liable to perversion. Perhaps it is. The sharpest tool inflicts the deepest wound; yet that is a poor argument in favor of using a dull one.
All this is aside from what, in this utilitarian age of ours, will be admitted as the main question. Is the medium of imaginative narration a legitimate, as it is a powerful, instrument in the formation of character ?
Of the influence of Moral Fictions, it is not within my present purpose to speak. If it were, might I pot safely challenge the production of a homily, or a code of maxims, or a set of moral precepts, to match, in influence, the noble lessons taught in ‘Helen ? But I leave to others the task of inquiring whether Seneca or Maria Edgeworth has the more effectually acted on the morals of our age ; and restrict myself at present to the inquiry, as it regards the historical branch of imaginative narration.
No one can, for a moment, so far misconceive what has been said, as to imagine that I purpose the absurd inquiry, whether authentic history can be beneficially superseded by apocryphal romance. All will perceive that the only debatable question is, whether fanciful narration may be safely and usefully admitted in aid of historical research.
What is the chief advantage to be derived from the study of history?
Assuredly not, a dry recollection of mere names and dates. We study, or ought to study history, as we study living man in the world around us. In history exists the whole by-gone world. By history, we live among our ancestors. By history, we come into contact with the mankind of former ages. By history, we travel among ancient nations, visit tribes long since extinct, and are introduced to manners that have yielded, centuries ago, to the innovating influence of time. Travel, society, show us men and things as they are ; history shows us men and things as they have been. The one opens to us the past, as the other the present, world.
Grant, as methinks we must, that here is justly defined the province of history, and it follows directly, that that history is the most valuable, which the best supplies, for the past, what contact with society affords, for the present.
And what does contact with society afford us? A living, vivid picture of men and women, their sayings, their doings, their appearance, their manners; an intimate acquaintance with their thoughts, wishes, peculiarities, plans, objects of desire, modes of conduct. In a word, it places man before us, and we learn what he is.
Does Hume, does Gibbon, thus teach us, what men and women have been ? Are we, even in their luminous pages, introduced, in verity, to the society of days that are past? They narrate to us many and valuable truths. They exhibit the great features of human progress. They expound to us difficult and important lessons. But do they tell us all ? Do we enter the chamber, penetrate to the closet ? Or are we not, rather, stopped in the ante-chamber, nay, on the very threshold of the entrance-door? They have faithfully and with infinite labor conducted us- they only could have done it — to the vestibule. But if we are to enter the ancient edifice, if we are to be introduced to its inhabitants, to watch their doings, to learn their manners, to read their hearts, to feel with them and for them, we must have a guide other than the scrupulous historiographer. Fancy, unaided, could never have found her way thither; but, once there, she alone is privileged to enter; and, once beyond the threshold, she is at home.
Whence have we derived our most lively and lasting impressions of chivalry and the feudal rule? From Hallam or from WALTER Scott ? Who that recollects his impressions, as he first turned over the pages of ‘Ivanhoe,' and sat down in imagination, among the stalworth barons of the twelfth century, to witness the 'Gentle and Free Passage of Arms of Ashby-de-la-Zouche' – who, with such recollections fresh upon him, will hesitate a moment for the answer?
But the author of the Middle Ages,' is more trustworthy than the author of • Ivanhoe. Is he so? It follows not, as a matter of course, merely because the one is called a historian and the other a novelist. Both may be accurate, or both may be inaccurate. Which has the most thoroughly imbibed the genuine spirit of the olden time? That is the first question. And the second is, which has succeeded in conveying to us the more correct, ay, and the more vivid and attractive picture, of that which both seek to place before us ?
The more attractive! There are those who will put in a demurrer VOL. IX.